Tag Archives: food

5 customer experience examples from the hotel sector

One of the sectors we help brands attract and retain happier customers in is the hospitality sector. It never ceases to amaze me how hotel brands and boutiques push the boundaries in customer experience.

I often think telecom, utility, financial service, retail and local government customer experience teams should run their strategy round tables and improvement workshops from hotels. It would give them a real sense of what level of customer experience their customers are experiencing when they are away from their brands. It would help them appreciate how their endeavours are often compared to brands in completely unrelated sectors and not just their industry peer group.

With this in mind, here are five examples of great customer experience from the world of hotels which consumers who consume from all the sectors mentioned above are experiencing as well. Some we’ve witnessed first-hand, others have been passed on to us by impressed travellers. But they are all great touches which help to create memorable experiences and advocates out of paying guests.

The Andaz Casual Check-in

andaz ambassadorNot a new idea, but a very impactful one. We stayed at Hyatt’s Andaz hotel in London. On arriving into the lobby we were approached by a greeter. Asked to sit in the comfortable lobby area by a greeter with a tablet to hand, complimentary coffee arrived and the greeter checked us in as we sat. On completion a concierge automatically arrived (no doubt triggered by the completion of the check-in transaction) and took our luggage. We then settled back and watched the world go by drinking our coffee. We ccouldn’thave felt more valued or welcomed. No wonder the hotel achieves a 91% rating and is in the top 5% of London hotels on Trip Advisor.

Premier Inn Family Proposition

premier inn doorThis example proves you don’t need big budgets or luxury brands to deliver exceptional customer experience. Premier Inn demonstrate how you can repackage existing assets to meet customer’s needs better. The low cost hotel has introduced a most impressive proposition; the ‘silent please’ family ground floor. I stayed there with my family whilst visiting my brother in Staffordshire last year. We were put on the ground floor and asked to ‘Shhhhh’ between 7pm and 10am. Having stayed in hotels when our children were babies and been woken by guests not unreasonably chatting in the corridors at not unreasonable times, this idea is helpful when settling children for the night. But it was the lovely touch of an extra spy hole for children on the door which I felt added fun to the experience. It was something for the kids which proved a great novelty. A great and relatively low cost addition to reinforce their family appeal.

Conrad’s Sleep Academy

conrad sleepWhilst on the subject of sleeping, Conrad in Chicago has taken the humble pillow to a new level of consumer choice. Whilst some hotels offer a choice of ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ when you book or as you check in, Conrad has created its own Sleep Menu website with a range of sleep services for guests. Of course you can choose the pillow of your choice, but extras like ear plugs, quilt turn downs, night caps, lip menders, moisture lock socks and wake up calls have all been packaged under this fun proposition. Using services which any hotel could provide, plus a few more to be distinctive, the way it is presented creates a memorable experience which reinforces the attention to detail only associated with a brand like Conrad.

Ritz-Carlton Values Delivered

I am sure you’ve heard this one before, but it’s a compelling demonstration of what you can achieve when you set your customers satisfaction bar as high as creating “unique and memorable” experiences.  Taken from Bloomberg Business Week, “One family staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Bali, had carried specialized eggs and milk for their son who suffered from food allergies. Upon arrival, they saw that the eggs had broken and the milk had soured. The Ritz-Carlton manager and dining staff searched the town but could not find the appropriate items. But the executive chef at this particular resort remembered a store in Singapore that sold them. He contacted his mother-in-law, and asked that she buy the products and fly to Bali to deliver them, which she agreed to do.”

Each day at around the world, employees from every department gather for a 15-minute meeting, known as a “lineup”, to review guest experiences, resolve issues, and discuss ways to improve service. Once basic housekeeping items are out of the way, the time is spent reinforcing the brands service values with employees using guest example storytelling to explain how they have delivered against them.

Hilton Double Tree’s Cookie Miracle 

hilton cookiePeople have told me (more than once) that they choose Double Tree because they get a cookie! When you think how big an impressive a hotel building and the resources needed to run it are, it sounds ludicrous. But what matters to me as a guest, is not the same as what matters to the hotel always. The cookie represents the personal touch, it’s a gesture demonstrating care and consideration. Virtues a guest unknowingly extends to every aspect of the hotel because until they’ve experienced it they only have the cookie as evidence of it. As they put it, ‘there is something special about a warm, yummy chocolate chip cookie. It says “Welcome” in so many ways’. 25 years later and with an annual production run of 21 million cookies, it keeps delivering the values they wish to demonstrate better than any ad or promotion can.

These are 5 examples from one industry, but the sentiment of the examples can be shared and delivered across many others. If you’ve enjoyed this selection you might want to check out our 5 great automotive customer experience examples too.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

Two cod cubes; the margin between success and failure in customer experience

My world is customer strategy. I help brands ensure they understand what makes their customers tick, how to ensure their customer experience is right and develop propositions which resonate with their customers for the right reasons.

As anyone in the customer experience space knows, the energy and effort is often in improving the operational capabilities and marketing communications. These are controllable factors which can be managed and the value of improvement correlated to overall success.


However, there is a more influential dynamic which will either support changes required or hinder it depending on two factors:

1. How deep-rooted customer-centricity is across all layers of the business

2. The alignment of the Employee Experience to the desired Customer Experience

Policy before people at Wagamama

And it is with these two points I refer with my recent experience of Wagamama. Until now, I’ve been a fan. In fact, my wife and I have spent as much time in Wagamama restaurants as any other chain. Whilst we knew they had a children’s menu we’d commented before that they didn’t seem to really get what a dining experience for children should be. But whilst up in London for a trip to The Shard, we decided we would introduce our children to the experience anyway.  

After our 72 floor viewing experience we walked along the Southbank and found Wagamama as planned (I’d looked on-line the previous day and checked a few things over again such as location and children’s menu). We settled in and ordered our meals. Our two and a half-year old can be contrary so we ordered him a chicken rice dish which we knew he would like, but of course as soon as his brother’s cod cube and rice dish arrived, he wanted that instead. Our fault for not ordering the same I accept.

So we asked the waitress,would it be at all possible to have one or two extra cod cubes to put in his dish to satisfy his envy. The waitress grimaced at the request and said she would have to check with the manager to see what the policy was. I was a little astounded to find there was a policy making department at Wagamama’s who would gather council to draw up service level agreements for such requests! But if policy it be, policy must be checked I thought. Confident of the outcome we carried on eating.

cod cubes 2

Why didn’t our other son offer his cubes up? Well he did. But as anyone who ever remembers what being a young child is like, that’s never going to be a satisfactory alternative.

We decided to order another full meal for our son. But then as we chatted with the two neighbouring families they convinced us that we shouldn’t have to do that. So instead we cancelled it and decided not to have desserts either. And the family by us said they doubted they’d come back because it highlighted to them Wagamama doesn’t really do families.

Perhaps to give away cod cubes here and there does hit the bottom line too hard. If so my blog is floored, but thinking about the long game there was a lot of ‘conversation’ and subsequent ‘WoM’ because of this and not for the things Wagamama would want to be remembered for. So as a collective of three families I’d guess our NPS sat around 70 and 80 before the experience. But after cod cube-gate Wagamama managed to take our score down to around minus 30 (school of guesstimate). For what, perhaps 10p profit? And if anyone tells me that Wagamama did give them a little extra for nothing, it would only make this experience worse.

The gold medal goes to Leeds Castle

Rewind three days and we had a family trip to Leeds Castle. We went to the restaurant for lunch. It was a hot plate buffet/carvery type arrangement and someone greeted us on the door to explain this which was helpful. The waitress showed us the children’s menu which looked great. We explained our two-year old (there is a theme here) probably wouldn’t eat a whole child’s portion. The waitress said she would make us up a half child’s portion and ask the lady on the till to put it through as two bread and butters as that would be about half the cost. Bingo – easy.  

leeds castle

They also offered us a wet day pass which meant for the price we paid we could return anytime for free because it was raining. A great initiative we weren’t expecting but we will undoubtedly return now and almost certainly eat in the restaurant and spend in the gift shop again. That’s thinking about the long game and mitigating for what they can’t control (the weather) because it impacts your brand’s customer experience.

I think I’d have normally shrugged the Wagamama experience off. But because the entire table felt it was a petty policy and because a few days earlier we had a very different positive experience at Leeds Castle, it stuck. That’s all it takes to lose a customer.

As a customer experience consultant it also reaffirmed to me the challenges brands have in ensuring the investment into operational excellence and communication cut-through isn’t wasted. Unless the employees understand what ‘putting customers at the heart of the business’ means, everything else won’t work.

Leeds Castle 5 Wagamama 0

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

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For more information about how we can help your customer strategy please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com  or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

Who we work with…clients mar 2013

Inspiring European Bistro experience now being served in Shaftesbury

When you arrive at Shaftesbury, you encounter what you would expect for a quintessential British town on the outskirts of the New Forest. There are inspiring views of rolling hills, charming craft and trinket shops, an eclectic selection of architecture spanning four hundred years and on this occasion, he legendary Golds Hill. And once you’ve exhausted yourself across the cobbles you need to reflect over a drink and a bite to eat, perhaps in a traditional English Pub or quaint tea rooms? However, if you look a little harder you will find the most incredible European Bistro you could wish to find as a more than the capable alternative. It’s a hidden gem, much like the red painted wrought iron bench on Golds Hill.

The Ridings is one man’s gastronomic vision realised. From the incredible Dutch lighting designs to the impressive full working AGA and the sumptuous green paint from the Little Green Paint Company which adorns the wall like a captivating oil painting or pop art print. And it is this achievement with simplicity through well casted artefacts which makes it so unordinary. It’s more like a work of art than a bistro. And you can see owner John Batt’s commitment to create the perfect experience in every paint brush stroke applied and polished glass chandelier piece. It’s simply exquisite.


Each aspect is so well crafted and brilliantly executed, it projects itself as a tribute to interior design as much as a beautiful bistro experience.

You walk in and are greeted by the fragrant aromas coming from the soup vessel. The offerings when we arrived were Apple or Orange and Carrot soup. And that’s another important aspect of the brand; elegantly simple menu achieved by blending a range of European dishes and ingredients in to different but intentionally uncomplicated dishes. Sandwiches were available, but only two; open hock ham or open cheddar cheese, both supported with rich chutneys. The cleverness of the restricted choice, is a strength because time which others spend juggling twenty different covers is spent instead on looking after customers. The food is amazing and equal to the surrounds.

Variety is served up in the flavours in the original dishes, but compromise is not welcome here in either the menu or the surrounds. From the mouth watering Italian cream cakes to the German honey on the Belgium waffles everything is taken a step further to create a unique experience.

It’s beautifully crafted by John. He’s been in Holland for twenty years, but a chance sighting of the property years ago helped him fall in love with the concept of his own bistro. Some twenty years later it he has side stepped from being a successful Dutch interior designers to start what he (and I agree) will become a new genre of bistro.

We were served by a very energetic and charming waitress who seemed to really love her job. We found out she doesn’t even work here, but popped in for a coffee earlier in the day and asked if she could hang out and help.

When you arrive, you are transported to a world where bistros are designed as they should be and run as they could be. John understands the importance of being a commercial success and has therefore identified other ways to ‘sweat his assets’ with the bistro becoming a restaurant in the evening. For this John hands the keys over to a friend to takes over on the proviso the brand is maintained. Also a shop has also popped up in the corner of the bistro offering customers the chance to purchase all the ingredients used.

I really hope John’s attention to detail approach to give dinners a memorable experience works, blossoms and permeates throughout the bistro world. In fact, we understand examples of his unique approach have started to appear in the other café’s and tea shops in Shaftesbury already! Theft or flattery? Jon would say the latter, of course.

If you don’t fall in love with The Ridings when you are in Shaftesbury, I’ll refund the difference between this experience and what you might expect from a café or tea shop. If you do love the approach and recognise the difference it makes to your visit, spread the word.

It’s an unordinary approach in a very established town, but there lies the charm. It defies convention and has found a way to stand out in a more memorable way. 

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands. For more information on how we can help you contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on  T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 2 – An alternative approach to street food

We all love to be inspired. Some of us consume for knowledge, some for motivation and others because it makes us feel better about the world around us. Whichever way we all take something from it.

We love to be inspired by unordinary propositions. For us they tick all of the reasons above. When we find them, we make a noise about them.

Meet Cristiano Meheghin. An Italian foodie who fell in love with London street food. He felt the time was right to push street food in to new spaces. So he brought his family a book of recipes using offal, quinto quarto (translated as the fifth part of four) passed down by his grandmother from Piedomt, to England to bring a new flavour to the streets.

Based at the Southbank, Cristiano uses cuts from the one third of the animal normally thrown away. But supplemented with the flavours inherited from his grandma he is able to create tasty food from these less expensive cuts, which makes the business model work.

An unordinary proposition for the modern palates of Londoners which is achieving stand out on the streets.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.